Educational Articles

Nutrition

  • As far back as 1953, veterinarians recognized the relationship between nutrition and the health of the skin and haircoat.

  • Obesity is the most common preventable disease in cats affecting up to 50% of the North American cat population. Obesity contributes to disease including diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, and cancer causing a decreased lifespan. Obesity can be controlled with diet and exercise plans. Regular visits to the veterinarian for body condition assessment and weight checks are crucial to weight loss as is maintaining the recommended dietary intake.

  • Taurine is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of all proteins. Taurine is an essential amino acid in the cat. Taurine deficiency will lead to feline taurine retinopathy, a weakening of the muscle cells in the heart, causing a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy and may cause digestive disturbances. Taurine was first recognized as a necessary component of the cat's diet in the late 1980's. Since then, all diets that are formulated for cats are supplemented with enough taurine to meet the normal cat's needs. A healthy cat that eats a high-quality cat food that is appropriate to its life stage does not require supplementation. Supplemental taurine is used as a treatment for dilated cardiomyopathy in cats. There are isolated occurrences of taurine-deficient dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs. Your veterinarian may have preferred supplement manufacturers that he or she will recommend.

  • Tube feeding is important to maintain adequate nutrition and prevent liver problems in cats that are anorexic for at least 2 days. Tube feeding may be needed because of a mechanical problem interfering with ingestion of food or because of a systemic illness that is causing the cat to be anorexic. There are several different options for tube feeding. Naso-esophageal/naso-gastric intubation passes a tube down the nose into the esophagus and sometimes into the stomach. This is only suitable for short term feeding. Placement of an esophageal tube requires sedation or anesthesia as a hole is made through the skin and esophagus to pass the tube through into the esophagus. An esophageal tube can be maintained for weeks to months. A gastrostomy tube requires anesthesia to pass a tube through the skin directly into the stomach. This is beneficial for longer term feeding. A tube must be protected to prevent the cat from pulling it out. The recommended diet is administered in liquid form by a syringe several times a day. Complications are rare with clogging and inadvertent removal most common.

  • Too much vitamin A or hypervitaminosis A can lead to serious toxicity. While somewhat uncommon in North America, vitamin A toxicity is sometimes diagnosed in cats that are fed primarily table scraps. There seems to be considerable variability in how susceptible individual cats are to this problem. It takes a long time for the clinical signs associated with vitamin A toxicity to develop; symptoms do not usually appear until the dog is at least middle-aged.

  • Designer diets cover a range of options that target specific feline nutritional needs. While some designer foods include certain ingredients like novel protein sources, others exclude certain ingredients like grains. Determining what diet is best for your cat should include a discussion with your veterinarian as there is no documented data that designer diets are any healthier for the average cat than traditional, commercial preparations.

  • Cat grass can be one of many cereal grains such as oat, wheat, barley, alfalfa, or rye. The grass is planted and cultivated indoors and presented to the cat as a supplement to the existing diet. Eating grass targets a cat’s natural instinct to forage and provides entertainment as well as nutritional and digestive value.